Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Typography is a form of writing that deals with the form, spacing and layout of words in the text of a displayed communications message. It is a part of word-driven advertising that can be seen in print advertisements. As advertisers are consistently seeking ways to increase the influential power of their ads, they seek ways to match the ads language, tone, visuals with the motivation and understanding of the consumer. Typography is an executional element that aims to gain consumers attention; the creative design art of writing demonstrates the importance of how messages are presented (MacInnis, Moorman & Jaworski, 1991).

McCarthy and Mothersbaugh (2002) suggested that typography has a significant effect on the consumer’s ability to read ad copy. In a study by Moriaty (1982)  on trends of typography advertising, a full-page ad out of three different types of magazines was used, 72 from general interest (readers digest), 86 special interest (better homes and garden) and 11 trade magazines (business week). The results suggest that special-interest magazine ads make the most use of typography at 33% and general interest with 27%. Furthermore, several studies have explored links between typography and brand perceptions. Walker, Smith and Livingstone (1986) revealed that a particular typeface (font choice) would be effective if it shared similar features to the product being advertised. For example a sturdy or heavy type such as the font “Impact” is appropriate for advertising heavy machinery.

A recent study conducted by Childers and Jass (2002) examined the use and effect of typography in advertisements. The authors illustrated an example of Johnson & Johnson brand logo and suggested that the delicate curve lined font used represents it’s delicacy and elegance. They concluded that typography can influence consumer brand perception and can be used to gain attention, and create something novel and unique to create a positive inclination towards a brand. It can also influence consumer motivation and ability to process information.

Some successful examples of advertisements using Typography 

VANS Shoes

Childers, T. L., & Jass, J. (2002). All dressed up with something to say: Effects of typeface semantic associations on brand perceptions and consumer memory. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 12 (2), 93–100.

MacInnis, D. J., Moorman, C., & Jaworski, B. J. (1991). Enhancing and measuring consumers’ motivation, opportunity, and ability to process brand information from ads. Journal of Marketing, 55, 32–53.

McCarthy, M.S., & Mothersbaugh, D.L. (2002). Effects of Typographic Factors in Advertising- Based Persuasion: A General Model and Initial Empirical Tests. Psychology & Marketing, 19, 663-691.

Moriaty, S.E. (1982). Trends in Advertising Typography. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 59, 290-294.

Walker, P., Smith, S., & Livingstone, A. (1986). Predicting the appropriateness of a typeface on the basis of its multi-modal features. Information Design Journal, 3, 29–42.

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